Amazing Service Learning Opportunity Offered to Area Youth

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach - Clay County hosted an afternoon SpIn Event, Aaron Eilerts Service Learning Day for area youth in grades 3-12 which focused on making “Dresses for Haiti”.  The SpIn (Special Interest) Event was an exciting way for youth to connect with a project that involved citizenship and meaningful service to their community and to their world. 

Christi Gabhart, Haiti missionary and spokesperson for Many Hands Market gave insight into daily life in Haiti.  Christi shared photos and interesting stories of the Haitian people and gave the youth assurance that the dresses they would be making for the children of Haiti would be greatly appreciated.  Each youth was able to sew and decorate a pillowcase dress to be shared with a Haitian girl.

“Citizenship is an opportunity and a responsibility to contribute to the shaping of the world around you and to provide service to others,” commented Clay County Program Coordinator, Jo Engel. “This SpIn Event promoted generosity in the youth and has helped to move citizenship and service learning from heads to hearts and hands.”  Youth Council members, Lauren Schwarck and Madison Schwenneker also stepped up and provided mentorship and leadership for the younger youth.

Christi Gabhart remarked, "It was a privilege to be invited to share with the students some REAL LIFE situations that are very much a part of everyday life in Haiti....the reality of typically eating just one meal a day, ...the reality that going to school is a tremendous privilege,...the reality of living in a house made of sticks and mud that needs constant repair,...the reality of cooking with three rocks, a pot, and an open flame and the danger of fire it creates.  The reality of a child having ONE article of clothing to wear made the project for today very meaningful.  Here in Spencer the recent months have brought conversation and thoughts about living a life of purpose.  4-H has always been about purpose.  Today was a perfect example of feeling a purpose by receiving a sense of personal satisfaction from using your gifts and resources to help your neighbor.  Today our neighbors were kids in Haiti."

Clay County Extension is offering many special youth events throughout the year known as SpIn (Special Interest) Events.  SpIn Programs range from horticulture, film-making and photography, to robotics, medicine, fashion and more.  The targeted age group varies depending on the program topic.

For more information on Clay County 4-H programming check out the ISU Extension website,, call 262-2264 or email  If you would like information in regards to starting a partnership with the Clay County 4-H Program and to learn about the SpIn Event opportunities contact Jo Engel at

A SpIn Book with all 2013 SpIn Events, including science, robotics, horticulture, photography and more is available through the ISU Extension - Clay County office.  Please call 262-2264 for more information.

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